Epsom Derby entries 2020 - Who are the interesting contenders?
The Epsom Derby for 2020 has been postponed, hopefully, we get a rescheduled race at some stage in 2020.
Whether we do or not, has little impact on the theme and aim of this post.
The thought is, from the Epsom Derby entries 2020, can I identify horses of interest from the intention shown by connections in their Derby entry?
Epsom Derby - Horses To Note
So what I’m looking at is the Derby entries from the ‘smaller’ less fashionable stables. You can do this for any of the early closing feature races. I’m not looking at horses that are likely to end up having a chance in the big race or even run, just those horses that have been entered and retained an entry at the multiple stages of entry.
Is the Derby entry significant?
Does it indicate ‘potential’ in the eye of the trainer and owners?
Can we learn something about a lightly raced or unraced horse from the intent?
9 Epsom Derby entrants of interest
From posing these questions and using the ‘smaller stable’ criteria I’ve noted 9 horses of interest from the Epsom Derby entries 2020.
Thank You Power, Hukum, Jacksonian, Thumur, Starcat, Cozone, Robert Walpole, English King, Vintage Rascal.
Before I take an in-depth look at the prospects of these individual horses, it’s important to understand the Epsom Derby entry process and the significance of horses being entered and staying in at the various stages.
“Epsom Derby 2010 – Workforce cantering down to the start” flickr photo by monkeywing https://flickr.com/photos/colinsite/4671888451 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
How does the Epsom Derby entry system work?
An early entry in the Derby could be fairly insignificant, or if a horse remains entered at the latter stages of much greater significance.
There are several stages in the Epsom Derby process.
Initial Derby Entry
Horses are entered in the December of their yearling season for £560 (prices listed are current as of 2020 race).
At this stage, none of the horses will have raced, been in training or possibly even named. With little to go on, a high number of speculative entries will be made based mainly on a horse’s pedigree.
As you read on, you’ll see the staggered entry process for the Derby with much higher costs at the latter stages encourages owners and trainers to make speculative and lower cost early entries.
Entries at this stage are of limited use to the punter as to clues about potential and actual ability.
March Derby Entry Stage
The next entry stage is not until March of a horse’s 3-year-old career. At this stage, a number of the horses will have raced and shown some potential. It costs £1,100 to stay in the Derby at this stage.
This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic the entry process has been frozen after the March stage with an ongoing review as to next steps.
UPDATE: The 2020 Derby will be run on Saturday 4th July at Epsom racecourse and behind closed doors. All former entries have been cancelled and this year horses will be entered at the standard 5 day declaration process.
April Derby Entry Stage
The race is opened up to horses who weren’t entered at the initial yearling entry stage.
Joining the race at this stage costs £9,000. Any trainer entering a horse at the increased cost at this stage is showing some intent and it’s worth paying attention to the usually small group of horses who are supplemented.
May Derby Entry Stage
For horses to stay in the race in May, owners have to stump up a further cost. £3,400 for those entered at the yearling stage and £11,250 for those added in April.
At this point, the potential Derby field is significantly reduced in size and you can expect those who remain to have shown form in some of the key trial races, have significant potential or just wealthy owners who want a day out!!
Final entries and supplementary entries for the Epsom Derby
The final entry stage is on the Monday of Derby week when owners have to shell out a further £2,800 to have their horses entry confirmed.
On this date, there is also the option to supplement a horse that is not already entered. This comes at a hefty price, in 2019 two horses were supplemented at £85,000 each, Sir Dragonet and Telecaster.
Very few come in at this stage, usually, it’s a horse that has arrived on the scene after unexpectedly showing up in one of the Derby trials.
Epsom Derby Wild Card Entry
There is one other method of Derby entry, a free wild-card entry for the horse that wins the Investec ‘Wild Card’ Conditions Stakes, a 2-year-old race run at Epsom in late September of the previous year, and another for the winner of the Blue Riband Trial race run in the April pre the Derby.
Epsom Derby entries 2020
So while the entry process for the Derby is currently frozen after the March stage this year. Of those horses entered, which took the eye?
I’ve eliminated any horse’s from the large and more fashionable stables. Of the current 139 entrants, 45% of the runners are from the powerful Aiden O’Brien (47) and John Gosden (16) stables.
I’m focussing on those stables who wouldn’t normally be associated with a Derby runner. That leaves me with the 27 horses listed below.
As a reminder, all these horses were entered by connections as yearlings and a supplementary fee was paid in March 2020 to keep their horse in the race.
7 of the horses are unraced so have no racecourse form to go on.
So which of the Derby Entrants are of interest and why?
Jacksonian – Ralph Beckett
Father Of Jazz – Michael Bell (unraced)
Nevendon – Michael Bell
Stepney Causeway – Michael Bell
Bodyline – Sir Mark Prescott
Do You Love Me – Karl Burke (unraced)
Emaraty Hero – Karl Burke
Hukum – Owen Burrows
Thumur – Owen Burrows
Eaglesglen – Tom Clover
Luncies – Simon Crisford
Thank You Power – David Elsworth (unraced)
Blow Your Horn – Charlie Fellowes
HMS President – Eve Johnson Houghton
Maori Knight – Richard Hughes
Kipps – Hughie Morrison
Starkat – Hughie Morrison
Cozone – Amanda Perrett
Moomba – Amanda Perrett
Arrow Of Gold – Kevin Ryan (unraced)
Robert Walpole – George Scott
Tyson Fury – Richard Spencer (unraced)
Sky Commander – James Tate
War Cross – Ed Vaughan (unraced)
English King – Ed Walker
Matthew Flinders – Ed Walker – (unraced)
Vintage Rascal – Tom Ward
Epsom Derby Entries 2020 - 9 Horses To Follow
THANK YOU POWER - David Elsworth
3-y-o b c Camelot - Fraulein
A David Elsworth Derby entrant takes the eye, less so when the owners are the powerful King Power Racing.
I’m looking for potential and ones that will hopefully be trained steadily with the view to going down the handicap route when their potential will be realised.
Thank You Power is unraced so we have no racecourse evidence to go on, just the fact that David Elsworth one of the great dual-purpose trainers of all time has him in his care. As you’d expect from a Derby entrant, he has stamina in his pedigree, in Thank You Power’s case, abundant stamina.
By Derby winner Camelot out of the mare Fraulein who was successful over 10-furlongs you expect Thank You Power will require 12-furlongs to show his best.
One to keep an eye out for when making debut when we’ll get some clues about his ability.
Hukum - Owen Burrows
3-y-o b c Sea The Stars - Aghareed
Hukum is a horse I’m very keen on, his trainer Owen Burrows doesn’t get a great deal of material to work with but, the ones he does, he does well with.
Hukum is twice raced, he made his debut at Newbury, running 3rd in a novice race over 7-furlongs. He then stepped up considerably at Kempton when he came from a long way back to collar the fair sort Laser Show close home.
What was most impressive at Kempton was that Laser Show and the eventual 3rd Lord Neidin raced at the head of the field throughout while Hukum raced mid to rear. Hukum met a little trouble turning into the straight which meant his jockey had to pull him back slightly.
The danger with these visually impressive performances is whether they were exaggerated by the way the race unfolds. Did the leaders go off too quickly and was Hukum’s finishing effort visually upgraded with the 2 in front of him slowing? Hard to say without a sectional breakdown of how the race played out.
What I would say is the pace didn’t appear to collapse, nothing bar Hukum appeared to make any significant headway on the front 2 in the final 2 furlongs. In my mind, this makes his performance very noteworthy.
On a rough hand-held timing, Hukum was approx 1.85 seconds behind the leaders 2 furlongs out, that’s around 11 ½ lengths and he’s beaten Laser Show 1 length and Lord Neidin 5 ½ lengths when they cross the line. That is some turnaround, particularly if the eventual 2nd and 3rd weren’t disadvantaged by going overly quick in the early parts of the race!
The Kempton race was over 1 mile and there’s even more encouragement when looking at Hukum’s pedigree. A See The Stars colt with a dosage index of 1.21 and CD of 0.25 he’s going to be even better once he goes up in trip. 10-furlongs as a minimum is likely to be his optimum.
A very exciting prospect, I’m looking forward to seeing Hukum step up in trip in 2020 and I believe there is a decent race or 2 to be won with him.
Jacksonian - Ralph Beckett
3-y-o ch c Frankel - Kalima
The Ralph Beckett trained Jacksonian ran in a decent July Newmarket maiden won by Military March.
Finishing 2nd beaten 1 ¼ length, the form has been endorsed by the subsequent performance of the winner, the 3rd Ursa Minor and the 4th Johan.
I suspect a maiden race will be a formality for Jacksonian. Looking at his breeding, a son of Frankel out of a Kahyasi mare then he’s likely to need all of 12-furlongs to bring out his best.
One note of caution with Jacksonian, he wasn’t an overly big 2-year-old, it will be interesting to see how he has developed over the winter but he may lack some physical scope.
Thumur - Owen Burrows
3-y-o b c Golden Horn - Time Being
Another exciting prospect for Own Burrows, Thumur raced just the once as a 2-year-old finishing 3rd in Kempton maiden won by the Godolphin trained Ya Hayati.
Like a lot of these Kempton maidens, they are contested and often won by well-bred types from the top stables. It’s a good first education ground for newcomers and like many of these Kempton races, the form is worth a rating in the low 80’s.
Undoubtedly Thumur needed the experience at Kempton, slowly away, he gave away half a dozen lengths on the leaders in the first 100 yards. I’d expect him to be more knowledgeable next time and not to forfeit so much ground.
Settling out the back, his finishing position wasn’t helped by the pace visibly slowing turning into the home stretch and he was shuffled back with most of the field in front of him. He then made stylish headway on the bridle while waiting for a gap and then finished with real effect once given a clear run.
Albeit beaten 3 ¾ lengths at the line I’d argue he was the best horse in the race. It wasn’t the strongest maiden but, I’d back him to comfortably come out on top should the same horses meet again.
The Kempton race was over a mile, on pedigree, Thumur, a son of Golden Horn is going to be better at a minimum of 10-furlongs.
I’d think he will be good enough to win a maiden and will be an interesting prospect for handicaps should connections get him qualified on a mark in the mid to high eighties.
Starcat - Hughie Morrison
3-y-o ch c Lope De Vega - Purr Along
Starcat won what is probably a pretty good Kempton maiden that Kuramata placed in (I’ve covered the race here in my Flat Horses To Follow 2020 post).
Hughie Morrison looks to have a decent set of 3-year-olds for 2020, Starcat is certainly in that group. Whether he is a Derby prospect, I’d not be so sure.
Looking at Starcat’s dosage profile, you’d have some concerns as to him being fully effective at a 12-furlong distance?
Dosage index 3.00, the centre of distribution 0.50.
A profile devoid of solid and professional points would suggest a horse who will thrive where there is a greater emphasis on speed.
His Kempton win was over a mile and it will be interesting to see whether connections opt to test his stamina on future runs or stick to the mile trip.
Cozone - Amanda Perrett
3-y-o b c Pour Moi - Bella Nouf
With just 1 run to date, a 14 ½ length 11 of 14 behind Hukum in a 1 mile Kempton maiden Cozone’s Derby entry looks speculative or, he has shown connections considerably more at home than he did on the racecourse!
Amanda Perrett has another entered in the Derby at this stage in Moomba. Neither are going to win the Derby but, these are exactly the type of horses that could be of interest in time and handicaps. Both were kept in the Derby at the March 2020 supplement stage suggesting either the owners fancy a runner on Derby day or, they have shown connections more than they’ve shown the public as yet.
Cozone has a pedigree packed with stamina influences – dosage index 0.56 and centre of distribution (0.29), this points to a horse who will stay very well and will want a minimum of 12-furlongs to show their best ability.
Not one for the A-list, but Cozone is one who I’ll be watching for progress in his next 2 runs as he gets a handicap mark. These types can get themselves well handicapped over distances short of their best before stepping up in trip and starting to realise some potential.
Robert Walpole - George Scott
3-y-o b c Golden Horn - Whazzat
Much the same applies to George Scott’s colt Robert Walpole as I’ve said about Cozone. His owner, Bill Gredley, has tasted Classic success so there’s no surprise he is firing a few Derby entry darts. Robert Walpole has shown me enough in his 2 runs to date to say confidently he won’t be winning the Derby. What takes the eye is his pedigree.
By Golden Horn out of the mare Whazzat who has foaled a couple of decent types, notably the stable’s Group 2 winner James Garfield and last season’s progressive filly Eva Maria.
Robert Walpole has contested novice races at up to a mile so far, he’s going to be better at a minimum of 10-furlongs. On the 2nd occasion, he ran 5th behind the promising Godolphin prospect Ursa Minor, now just 1 run off qualifying for a handicap mark. A rating somewhere in the low 70’s would be an interesting mark for Robert Walpole to start life in handicaps and up in trip.
English King - Ed Walker
3-y-o b c Camelot - Platonic
Ed Walker won’t have had many Derby entrants but he is certainly one of the most up and coming trainers at the moment.
In English King, he looks to have a nice prospect who could make his mark in pattern company.
English King raced twice as a 2-year-old and shaped with particular promise on his 2nd start when winning his maiden at Newcastle.
It looked a decent maiden, English King recorded a solid time and stylishly took care of 2 fair looking prospects in Waleydd and Galsworthy, the front 3 pulling nicely clear from the remainder.
English King stayed in the Derby at the 2nd entry stage in March of this year. On the promise he’s shown on the racecourse I’d say that was certainly warranted.
Whether he’s a Derby standard animal, time will tell. It may be that connections don’t pitch quite so high early in the horse’s career and we see English King go down the handicap route.
A winner over 10-furlongs as a 2-year-old, this son of Montjeu is going to be seen at his best when he steps up to 12-furlongs and possibly further.
Vintage Rascal - Tom Ward
3-y-o b c Nathaniel - Irish Vintage
Vintage Rascal is quite an interesting horse for the future though I suspect a lot will depend on the mark he is assigned by the handicapper.
His trainer Tom Ward will be one of the lesser-known names with a Derby entry. Vintage Rascal was Tom Ward’s first winner as a trainer when he won his Windsor maiden, though the horse was officially under the care of Richard Hannon up till 6 days before the Windsor win.
As Vintage Rascal was initially in training with Richard Hannon he would have received his Derby entry before joining Tom Ward. That said, connections did stump up the March 2020 entry fee, when the horse was with his current trainer, to keep him entered in the Derby. Should we take this as a sign from connections that the horse is better than shown so far?
I think it’s almost certain that Vintage Rascal will show himself a good deal better than his one racecourse appearance so far. He’s not going to win the Derby though.
He debuted at Windsor, winning an average novice event on soft ground, albeit a race that appeared to be run at a good pace from the start. Vintage Rascal pulled nicely clear in the final furlong having looked to be about to struggle early in the straight. The impression from that run was that he would in time want a thorough test of stamina. That impression is backed up by his pedigree.
A son of Nathaniel, he promises to be suited by middle-distances and like a lot of Nathaniel’s being given plenty of time to mature.
A potentially interesting one for staying handicaps later in the year.